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PUT PRESSURE ON COPYRIGHT THEFTS

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The United States should increase the pressure on foreign countries to stop stealing more than $1.4 billion annually in American patents and copyrights.

Twelve countries - China, Saudi Arabia, Korea, India, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria and Malaysia - have been targeted as the worst offenders.The International Intellectual Property Alliance - made up of more than 1,600 companies - is pleading with the United States to use the pressure of trade sanctions against these and other countries to curtail the massive loss of U.S. intellectual property.

The U.S. government must go to bat, the alliance said. "There comes a time when you've done all you can do and you need the muscular arm of your government," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America. His group spends $40 million annually to fight an estimated $1 billion annual loss through piracy and lack of market access.

Trade investigations against specific countries are an established practice in countries where rampant piracy is suspected. It has brought down piracy in several countries.

Piracy in Indonesia dropped from $206 million to $45 million in four years because of U.S. pressure. Piracy in Nigeria dropped from $131 million to $22 million in that period.

But the pressure must be kept up.

The administration should make the funding of such investigations a priority. With losses running into billions to U.S. businesses, the expense is more than justified.